The Monist 91 (1):151-169 (2008)

David Meeler
Winthrop University
I will argue for a straightforward claim: privacy is best understood as protecting information about us from being known by others. To those unfamiliar with recent scholarship regarding privacy, this claim may seem self-evident, too trivial to deserve defense. At the same time, scholars of privacy may find the claim too narrow or outdated to enjoy sustained defense. This situation makes the view an interesting one, I think. My goal is to develop a conception of privacy that is concise enough to be legally functional and robust enough to be morally valuable. Beginning with richer moral conceptions ofprivacy, I will pursue a type ofreductioniststrategy by defending infonnational privacy as the only meaningful core of privacy interests. My reductionism is not necessarily conceptual. While I think a conceptual reduction might also be defended, my reduction can be seen, primarily, as practical. My reasons for focusing on information are straightforward:(conceptually) I suggest that any private matter must be related to the information aspect, and (practically) that protecting information privacy is sufficient for protecting the other aspects identified in the richer moral tradition; however, protecting only the other regularly acknowledged aspects (either access or expressive privacy) fails to protect information privacy. This analysis of privacy centered on information should be clean enough for legal application while addressing the deepest worries that motivate morally thick analyses. We define the parameters ofself-expression and legitimate government access most effectively by carefullydefining the parameters for protecting information about our lives
Keywords Analytic Philosophy  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest  Philosophy of Mind  Philosophy of Science
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ISBN(s) 0026-9662
DOI 10.5840/monist200891117
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